Nation's top available transfer Matt Haarms commits to BYU

Wheeler finds Haarms wide open for the easy dunk (0:17)

Aaron Wheeler finds his big man, Matt Haarms, wide open to the basket for the easy slam. (0:17)

Former Purdue center Matt Haarms, the nation's top available transfer, committed to BYU on Thursday.

Haarms chose the Cougars over Kentucky and Texas Tech, although 25-plus schools reached out following his decision earlier this month to transfer.

"I just felt an absolutely awesome connection with them," Haarms told ESPN. "I came down to those three schools, and at that point I was just looking at everything. I could weigh the pros and cons for hours on end, but I needed to make a decision on where I felt I could be the most successful and where I could be 100 percent mentally committed and where I truly trusted them."

The 7-foot-3 center from Amsterdam started 41 games for the Boilermakers over the past three seasons, although he came off the bench behind Trevion Williams for the second half of the last campaign. Haarms averaged 8.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks last season, after putting up 9.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in the 2018-19 season. He had a career-high 26 points against Minnesota in early January, and had his second career double-double against Jacksonville State in November.

"Look at Coach [Mark] Pope and his staff. In the one year they've been there, they've done so many impressive things at BYU," Haarms said. "They're going to be in the conversation for one of the best staffs in the country. I'm in the best position to be successful. Coach Pope is an absolutely awesome guy. Other programs had more traditional success, but I can go there and be a part -- a big part -- of a team that wins."

Haarms wasn't able to take visits due to the coronavirus pandemic, and he's only driven through the state of Utah, but he said some of the criteria that went into his decision coming out of high school were no longer factors.

"I'm an older guy, 23 years old. It wasn't where I'm spending the next four years," Haarms said. "It's not even a one-year deal. It's eight months. At this point in my career, I'm not worried about facilities and locker rooms and how many Nike shoes I'm getting. That stopped being important for me."

Haarms' decision to transfer caught the Purdue staff by surprise, sources told ESPN.

"[I] just believe I needed a change of scenery to take my game to the next level," Haarms told ESPN at the time. "Don't have anything but positive things to say about Purdue, but I just felt like it was time to move on."

Haarms will be immediately eligible next season for Pope and BYU. The Cougars are losing three starters from last season's 24-8 team, and Haarms will likely start right away down low.

"I expect to compete for a starting spot; I don't want to be handed anything," Haarms said. "I was skeptical of people that said I could do whatever I wanted. I'm competing. I hope to start and make a big impact. But nothing was promised to me, and that's the way I like it."

Kentucky and Texas Tech will now look elsewhere for interior help. Both the Wildcats and Red Raiders need another big man for next season's roster, but options are dwindling. VCU transfer Marcus Santos-Silva, who entered the transfer portal earlier this week, could be a potential target for both programs.